Over October break, the best weekend of my life occurred. On Friday, my mom thought I was being overdramatic, yet by Sunday, she conceded that it had been one of the best weekends of her life too.
Hundreds of fans. Three days. So much of the cast and crew. In the town that inspired it all.
Never will I ever be as happy as I was at the Gilmore Girls Fan Festival. (Unless you tell me I’ll be able to marry my very own Jess one day. Or Logan, if he’s vastly matured in the last 10 years.)
I met Lane, Gypsy, Andrew, Miss Patty, Jackson and April. I knitted while watching some of my favorite episodes while Valerie Campbell—costume supervisor, or ‘costume queen’ as I’ve dubbed her in my head— gave us all kinds of behind the scenes fun facts and commentary. I drank a “Rory.” I sang along as Hep Alien (minus Gil— we missed you!) led a round of ‘Where You Lead’ on the town hall steps. I had coffee at the real life LUKE’S and stayed at the real life Independence Inn (the Mayflower Grace, my new favorite inn).
Sorry, I’m getting carried away bragging.
Driving back to Vassar on Sunday afternoon gazing at the leaves (I LIVE for fall foliage), I had a thought. This weekend wasn’t just amazing because Gilmore Girls is amazing. What Gilmore Girls has inspired is amazing. I have never met so many kind, generous, open-hearted people in one place. Not perfect people, but ordinary people with extraordinarily good hearts. (I dare you to find a fandom better than ours.)
It’s going to sound cheesy, but I haven’t felt so consistently like myself as I did those three days in Washington Depot, Connecticut. This year is the first time I’ve felt closest to my best self in a while, and in an unexpected way, that weekend felt like a huge reaffirmation of who that best, unfiltered, genuine, (un)perfectly happy self is. I don’t care if it’s “cool” to be as obsessed with Gilmore Girls as I am. I care about that part of me, and I’m unapologetically proud of what I’m naturally drawn to and love.
People who make me feel like I have to pretend I’m into something I’m not, or act apathetic about things I deeply care about, just aren’t my people. They never were (even if we used to be “friends”). It sounds simple, but acknowledging that belief system is no small thing. Figuring out who you’re not is a huge part of clearing space for who you are. Once you’ve done that, you get to start making decisions that speak to your soul without letting anyone else’s opinions influence them.
People like Jennie Whitaker (who had the ingenious idea for the Gilmore Girls festival), and my new friend Amy (who I met in line to meet Keiko Agena, and then spent all of Saturday with) may seem rare, but they’re out there. Stars Hollow inhabitants (a.k.a. people who just make you feel good about yourself and at home with who you are) aren’t imaginary. You just have to truly protect, and embrace, and prioritize whatever makes you feel like your best, truest self. I’ve finally learned that that’s the only way to attract my people.
We don’t all have to like the same kinds of things to be friends—I promise I won’t disown you if you don’t like Gilmore Girls. But what if we only allowed people in our life who respect them? What if we created our own little mental “Star’s Hollow,” a small town full of only the people who make you feel like the best version of yourself. We can’t always be in our small town; sometimes we have to venture out to other places. Though we can’t always control what happens across state lines, we can choose to decide where we take up residence most of the time, and what kind of energy we want to live around.
One of my favorite inspirational quotes ever came from a film intensive I took at the Margie Haber Studio in Los Angeles: “People are like lighthouses. You attract what you’re sending out. When you open up your power, your lighthouse opens.” People who think your light is too bright don’t have to enter. Some people will find that light warm and welcoming, and walk right in.
I feel warm and welcomed the second I heard the opening chords of “Where You Lead.” I feel like my best self when I’m in a rehearsal room, or watching a favorite tv show with a friend, or curled up with a really great autobiography, or out an amazing new restaurant. And I’m enjoying all of these things so much more now that I’ve cut out a lot of the things, and people, that don’t make me happy.
It’s hard to be so open about this publicly—but by the end of my sophomore year, I was more miserable than I’ve ever been, and incredibly lost. It was really hard for me to picture ever wanting or enjoying anything at Vassar ever again. Little did I know that there was so much left for me to do and become here. After a year away, now with such a different, renewed perspective, I just don’t have the energy to give power to the things that used to drive me insane. It’s so surprising and liberating how quickly and sharply the things that matter, and bring you joy, come into focus, once you let all the bullshit go. And you know what they say: what you focus on, grows.
So in a nutshell, what I’m saying is this:
You don’t have to get up at 3 a.m. to watch the Gilmore Girls revival with me.
But if you’re a resident of my personal Star’s Hollow, you’ll listen to me gush about it over coffee, or at least simply accept that this is one of the biggest events of my life so far.
Just like I’ll respect and love you for the things that excite you that way.
Never turn off your lighthouse, even if not as many people as you’d like are drifting in right this minute. And don’t try to change your light to attract more people.
The right people are making their way down the beach.
And once they get to the lighthouse, they’re probably going to set up camp for quite a while. Your people, your tribe, they’re in it for the long term.
(Who would ever want to leave Stars Hollow?)